Saturday, January 19, 2013

Breisach am Rhein, Germany - June 17, 2012

Breisach am Rhein, a town of approximately 16,500, is on the right bank of the river Rhine in the Breisgau-Hochschwarzwald district of Germany. Before 1820 the hill on which Breisach stands became an island during flood season. Johann Gottfried Tulla, a German engineer, put a stop to this when he straightened the river - actually reducing the river's length between Basle and Worms from 220 miles to 170 miles - in the space of a few years. Navigation and flooding problems were greatly alleviated along the upper reaches of the Rhine although the middle and lower Rhine suffered serious flooding thereafter. So much for unintended consequences.
The Breisach cathedral - Saint Stephansmünster - was begun in the early 13th century and, by the early 16th century, the town had become a significant stronghold of the Holy Roman Empire. In December 1638, Bernhard of Saxe-Weimar, aided and abetted by the French, conquered the city and attempted to establish a new territory. Bernhard died the following year and the town somehow slipped into French hands. Hmm.
The ownership changed several times more over the next 150 years finally ending up a part of Germany and the general instability of the area moved France to build its own fortress, Neuf-Brisach, on the left bank of the river. During WWII, 85% of Breisach was destroyed by Allied artillery as the Allies crossed the Rhine and Saint Stephansmünster was also heavily damaged. See more views around town here.

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